WITH A population of close to 1.3 billion, India has no shortage of sporting talent. However, it hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success in many sports at a global level. For several years, after every Olympics, the puny development of sports used to become a talking point in our nation. But, today it has reached a juncture where many sports are picking up popularity as numerous events are grooming talent and laying the right foundation.
Arguably, the inception and the subsequent reception of the Indian Premier League in 2008 has played a role in the birth of various domestic leagues in our country. Following the success of tennis, kabaddi, football, badminton and wrestling leagues, there is no doubt that the upcoming Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) will have a positive impact on the sport.
The India's newest franchise league is set for its inaugural season in July this year, and is expected to promote and elevate the sport. UTT, which is owned and developed by 11Even Sports Private Limited (ESPL), will see a total of six franchises comprising eight players each, competing against each other. Following the players’ draft on June 9, each team will find four Indian and four overseas players in their teams.
Teams – Bayside Spinners TTC, Challengers, Dabang Smashers TTC, Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas, Maharashtra United, RP-SG Mavericks will have domestic coaches Soumyadeep Roy, A Muralidhara Rao, N Ravichandran, Sandeep Gupta, Arun Basik and Sachin Shetty respectively. Apart from a domestic coach, each franchise has appointed a foreign coach.
The country’s first ever professional table tennis league will be held in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai starting July 13. The tournament will have 18 matches, out of which 15 will be league matches, two semi-finals and one final. It is also expected to offer a total prize money of Rs 3 crore.
As the coach and the player draft has come to close, let us take a close look at what the franchises are holding in store ahead of the much-anticipated league.